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I admit that, initially, I rather fancied a year out in an exotic destination (Thailand and South America were very 'in' at the time), however, straight after A-levels, my personal funds were limited, to say the least. Going to uni is an expensive business and I wanted to get some savings behind me before I began, however, the concept of a 9 to 5 in Buckinghamshire was hardly an exciting prospect. A 'working holiday' was the perfect solution.
There are a variety of options available for students, but, again, many countries will not issue visas unless you can prove that you have financial backing (You can forget Oz unless you have over two grand in the bank). The EU, however, is our oyster.
As a French student and culture vulture, Paris became my first port of call and I soon found myself a 'cast-member' at Disneyland. Hundreds of young people from all over the world are employed at the park every season in areas such as merchandise and catering. Personally, I worked the park's main conference centre, where events included the FIFA Footballer of the Year Awards (where I served wine to Pele, Bobby Charlton, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos!) In all honesty, however, on a noraml day, the work could be thoroughly tedious, but the social life was ample compensation. Parties were non-stop at the Halls-of-Residence-style accomodation and you are always only a short ride on the metro from the heart of Paris. Plus, if you're a rollercoaster fan, there was always the chance for a quick hop on Space Mountain before your shift begins!
At the time, we all complained non-stop about the long hours that were demanded, but now I can appreciate that we had it pretty easy on the whole. A year at Disney gave me the opportunity to make life-long friends, improve my previously dire French and, in the end, it made starting an independant life at uni far less daunting.
If people try to dissuade you from taking the plunge, ignore them. You can only gain from the experience. Whether you choose France or elsewhere, go for it!